January 20, 2012

Finally! A Win in Philadelphia

On Thursday night, the Islanders went into a building that hasn't been kind to them. But a funny thing happened, one that the Flyers have not been used to the last few years. That's right - the Islanders won a game in Philadelphia.

It was their first win at the Wachovia Center since April of 2007. Many Isles fans will remember that as the second to last game of the 2006-07 season, and the third of four straight wins to close out the season and clinch the final playoff spot.

To put it in perspective, there are only two players on this Islanders team who were with them that season: Frans Nielsen (15 games) and Rick DiPietro.

For the second game in a row, the Islanders went to a place on the road not too kind to them and dominated a game. That is quite an accomplishment, and one to be proud of right now. Sure, there's still a lot of work to be done as far as this season goes, but you take any positives you can right now, roll with it and hope that it becomes something even more.

John Tavares extended his points streak to 11 games with two assists. P.A. Parenteau also picked up two assists, bringing his point total for the season up to 41. The Islanders became only the second team this season to have three players with 40 or more points so far (the Chicago Blackhawks are the other).

Evgeni Nabokov did his job and did it well, making 40 saves. While the Isles were out shot 41-27, it didn't feel like it. Many of the Flyers shots came from the point as the Isles did another good job defensively in keeping the Flyers to only the low percentage shots.

Matt Moulson kept up his 40 goal pace as he scored one of his own to open the scoring for the Isles off of a really amazing pass by Tavares. How he did it, and if it was intended for Moulson or Kyle Okposo, we'll never know. But somehow it went right to Moulson's tape. In the first period, Moulson had a goal called back as it was pretty clear he had a distinct kicking motion to put the puck past Sergei Bobrovsky. But there was no doubt on this shot early in the second period and was a good way to make up for the one he missed out on.

Like I mentioned earlier, the Flyers threw everything they possibly could towards the net. While 41 shots got through, there were many more that missed the net or were blocked. Andrew MacDonald and Milan Jurcina each had five blocked shots. Travis Hamonic and Mark Eaton each had three. In total, the Islanders blocked 25 shots, and were quick to get to the loose pucks.

The only really tough part the Isles faced was after the Flyers got on the board to make the game 3-1. Shortly after, the Islanders had two solid shifts, exchanged shots with the Flyers and then were able to regain the momentum and continuously get the puck deep.

For some reason, this game for me had as much of a playoff feel as we have had in a long time. Everyone felt good after the dominating win in Washington, that we all hoped the Isles would put up a similar effort in Philly. After their first couple of meetings, the game certainly didn't disappoint and had a playoff feel for the players as well. There were a number of hits and scrums, and even some cheap shots after the whistles. Dylan Reese got into a fight with Claude Giroux. Okposo went after Brayden Schenn after he laid a very late hit on Tavares, screaming some choice words at him with the refs breaking them up. Parenteau and the Flyers exhcanged hits and verbal barbs all night.

It was a fun game, with the Flyers living up to their Broad Street Bully reputation, and the Islanders coming out every bit as good as they have in recent games, like against Detroit and Washington.

A couple of weeks ago on the show, some of you may have remembered I pretty much said we were done as far as playoff runs were concerned after the 0-for-2 West Coast road trip. Well, I have to stick by my statements but right now I'm rooting for me to be wrong. The Islanders come home Saturday to face Carolina before a home-and-home with the always tough Toronto Maple Leafs. If the Islanders really want to catch everyone's attention, walk out of the next three games with at least five points. Then we can talk more seriously about getting back into the playoff race.

It's best to take these things one game at a time, but be mindful of how many points down they are. Taking it one game at a time allows us to be pleasantly surprised when if all goes well, we can look it up, see ourselves in 10th and within five points of being right there. Baby steps.

For now, we enjoy this win against the Flyers.



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